The Sandy Project, an advocacy that aims to teach school-age children the dangers of dengue and how best to protect themselves from the mosquito-borne disease, will mark its fifth year with a fundrasing activity on Feb. 12 at the Green Sun building in Makati City.
Lawyer Ma. Louella “Peaches” Aranas, who started the advocacy in 2013 after her daughter Sandy succumbed to dengue at 10 years old, said her group is looking for benefactors who would help the project reach at least 5,000 school kids this year.
With dengue making headlines again following the deaths of several children related to the controversial vaccine and immunization program launched by the government last year, Aranas is convinced the Sandy Project is on the right track, hence their “Night of Thanksgiving and Charitable Giving” event next month.
“More and more it’s becoming clear to me that my advocacy, and how it started, I’m really in the right direction, because of the relevance and importance of keeping the children aware of dengue and teaching them how to take care of themselves, which leads to the prevention part,” Aranas told.
The advocacy, she stressed, is a dengue awareness and prevention campaign with the children as the target audience. Until this year, the project has been largely self-funded by Aranas, a successful tax lawyer running her own LMA Law firm.
“Incidentally, when you teach the children, you’ll also teach the mothers, when they attend the outreach the mothers will be there,” she added. “I realize now with the vaccine scare, children are the ones dying, so we need to educate the kids.”
“I’m not saying the efforts of the government or even private entities are not enough. I’m just saying it can never be enough,” said Aranas, who managed to reach 300 children in Quezon City and Bacolod City in previous years.
She noted that dengue has not gone away, still strikes innocent kids, and is making headlines “not in a good way.”
“Children should be empowered to take care of themselves. Thus I’m hoping Sandy Project will have a stronger impact on the kids, because they’ll realize Sandy was a child too. Maybe there will be one less Sandy this year. That’s just my goal,” Aranas said.
Based on national surveillance data collected between 2011 and 2015, InterHealth said there was an average of 220 dengue cases reported across the Philippines every day.
Dengue has become a year-round threat in the Philippines, with a peak in cases from July to November each year, one to two months after the start of the rainy season, InterHealth added.
“If only everybody is conscientious enough, then we will prevent this from happening again. The problem is, not everyone knows how serious dengue is,” Aranas said.